Archive | September, 2011

Miriam asks: Are you in favor of the RH Bill?

23 Sep

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is leaving this weekend for The Hague, Netherlands to kick-start her campaign as the country’s official nominee to the International Criminal Court as one of its judges. Santiago is also the author and co-sponsor of the Reproductive Health bill in the Senate. She and Sen. Pia Cayetano have teamed up to defend the bill in the Senate plenary.

A survey conducted last June found that:

  • 82% of Filipinos say “the choice of a family planning method is a personal choice of couples and no one should interfere with it”
  • 73% of the respondents agree that “if a couple wants to plan its family, it should be able to get information from government on all legal methods;” and
  • 68% agree that “the government should fund all means of family planning, be it natural or artificial means”

Although these numbers are overwhelmingly in favor of the controversial law, Miriam is asking her fans, supporters, and also her critics of their position on the RH Bill: should or shouldn’t it pass into law?  Are you in favor of the RH Bill? Enter your vote in the simple survey form in the right sidebar and leave your comments in this post.

UPDATE: For those still looking for a copy of the bill, here is Senate Bill No. 2865 (per Committe Report No. 49) from the website of the Philippine Senate. 

Interview transcript – 21 September 2011

22 Sep

On Sen. Manuel Lapid’s intention to participate in the Senate debates on the RH Bill, and his proposal for the debates be conducted in Filipino

Mahal na mahal ko si Sen. Lapid dahil he’s very humble. Hindi siya mapagkunwari. Umpisa pa lang na nagkita kami sa Senado sinabi na niya sa akin na hindi siya na nakakaintindi masyado ng Ingles at hindi siya makakagsalita nang mabuti. Sa akin naman, bale wala iyon dahil sa ilalim ng ating Saligang Batas ang ating mga wikang opisyal ay Ingles at Filipino, na based on Tagalog. Kaya tama lang. Kung gusto niya ng Tagalog, managalog tayo. Kaya lang, kulang ang Tagalog ko. Ako naman ngayon ang at a disadvantage dahil sanay siya sa Tagalog. Pero makakayanan ko. Baka magiging katatawanan lang ako dahil ang punto ko ay napakalakas na Ilongo, pero sasagot pa rin ako. Iyon lang, gagamit ako ng mga mga medical terms minsan. For example, ngayong hapon sa pagkakaintindi ko ang pinag-uusapan ay when does conception begin. I have to use medical terms like eggs, sperm, zygote, implantation, fertilization and so on. Mahirap isalin iyon sa Tagalog, pero meron naman siya sigurong Tagalog interpreter.

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THE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH BILL: LOGIC 101

15 Sep

(Speech at the inter-university forum on 15 September 2011 sponsored by the UP Law Center Human Rights Institute at the UP College of Law Malcolm Theatre)

Reproductive Rights as Part of Human Rights

Our topic is the nature of reproductive rights as part of the greater sum of human rights.  In legal terms, human rights form the totality of the freedoms, immunities, and benefits that, according to modern values – specially at an international level – all human beings should be able to claim as a matter of right in the society in which they live.

In international law, the basic document is the non-binding but authoritative Universal Declaration of Human Rights, accompanied by the binding documents known as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

In national or domestic law, the basic document is the Philippine Constitution, particularly Article 2 on Declaration of State Policies, and Article 3 on the Bill of Rights.  Our Constitution, Art. 2 Sec. 15 specifically provides: “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”  This right to health is now viewed as including the right to reproductive health.

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Interview transcript (13 September 2011) – “Reelectionists are afraid of so-called ‘Catholic vote’.”

14 Sep

On the ongoing debates on the RH Bill

I am afraid that the strategy will be for the debates to drag on until it would be time to consider the budget, at which time all bills of course will have to be shelved. If that is the case, we will never finish it by the end of the year. My understanding of the pulse of Congress in both chambers is that no one wants the public to know just exactly where they stand, that most senators prefer to just keep quiet and let the public guess. One of the factors of this reluctance, to be explicit, is that elections are just around the corner, and reelectionists are always afraid of the so-called Catholic vote. Although we know that in the time of former health secretary Juan Flavier he just started distributing condoms for free even without any legal basis. The Catholic Church campaigned against him, but he won anyway (as senator). So apparently there is no such thing as a Catholic vote, yet that is going to influence very heavily the length and the duration of the debates on the RH Bill.

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On Contraceptives as Tools of Preventive Medicine and on the Issue of Population Control (response to Senator Enrile)

13 Sep

1.) Health is defined in the WHO constitution of 1948 as: A state of complete physical, social and mental well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Health should be considered not so much as an abstract state but as a means or resource which permits people to lead a personally, socially and economically productive life.

There are inextricable links between social and economic conditions, the physical environment, individual lifestyles and health.

Health is regarded by WHO and its member states as a fundamental human right, and correspondingly, all people should have access to basic resources for health, including those to promote health and prevent disease, not just those that treat illness and disease

Thus it is wrong to state that “a health bill should only discuss sickness and medicines.”

2.) Pregnancy is not a disease. But pregnancy complications are diseases. The whole field of medical specialization called Obstetrics is concerned with treating pregnancy complications. If there are no pregnancy complications, then society can do away with obstetricians and simply produce midwives.

  • The major causes of maternal deaths, accounting for 80% according to the WHO, are obstetric complications in nature. These are severe bleeding (mostly bleeding after childbirth); infections (usually after childbirth); high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia); obstructed labour; and unsafe abortion. Only 20% are caused by diseases such as malaria, anaemia and HIV/AIDS during pregnancy. (Source: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs348/en/index.html )

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Inter-university symposium on RH set

9 Sep

Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Pia S. Cayetano are the guest speakers in this inter-university symposium. Sen. Santiago will focus her speech on Reproductive Health as a Human Right. Students from different universities, civil society groups, and special guests are expected to attend the event.

The symposium is part of the University of the Philippines College of Law Centennial celebration activities.

MIRIAM DARES EDDIE TO CAPTURE KADHAFI

7 Sep

 Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said she is challenging former Pres. Fidel Ramos to chase and capture Moammar Kadhafi of Libya, the former strongman who is in hiding from authorities.

Ramos has been accused by a WikiLeaks cable, available on the internet, of accepting an illegal campaign contribution from Kadhafi of P5 million for the 1992 presidential election.

Santiago led in the national canvassing of votes in 1992, but after a nationwide blackout, was eventually overtaken by Ramos, who won by the lowest plurality vote in Philippine political history.

After Santiago filed a resolution for two Senate committees to investigate Ramos for the crime of accepting an illegal campaign contribution from a foreign source, Ramos said he was challenging her to take the testimony of Kadhafi and the American ambassador who was quoted in the WikiLeaks cable.

“The challenge is geriatric ranting and raving.  He is in a state of deep panic, and lashing out at me.  I had nothing to do with the US cable nor with WikiLeaks,” Santiago said.

Santiago said that Ramos should understand that no congressional committee has the power to summon a foreigner, unless he is being investigated for a crime committed on Philippine territory.

“He is whistling in the dark.  He must be off his rocker,” Santiago said.

In her resolution, Santiago said that Ramos allegedly stole the 1992 presidential election, and then proceeded to persecute her with a graft case in the Sandigan, which was eventually dismissed for lack of evidence.

“I am a laureate of the Magsaysay award for government service.  Ramos is not a laureate of the Magsaysay award.  End of debate,” Santiago said.

To allow Ramos to go unpunished for his crimes is tantamount to reinforcing the culture of impunity in this country

7 Sep

I filed a Senate Resolution No. 589 asking the Blue Ribbon Committee and the Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation to conduct an investigation into reports by whistleblower group Wikileaks, alleging that former President Fidel V. Ramos accepted the sum of P5 million as campaign contribution from Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi for the 1992 presidential campaign.

Under the Election Code, it is a crime for any candidate to solicit or receive any contribution from foreign sources. Since Ramos has already finished his six-year term as president, he can no longer be penalized with disqualification or removal from office. But he can be held criminally liable for election offenses and offenses under the Penal Code.

Some Filipinos are probably too young to remember this, but during the 1992 elections, I led in the first five days of the national canvassing. However, after a mysterious power blackout hit the entire country, Ramos emerged with a very slim margin over me.

Because of the blatant election fraud, I refused to concede the election and went on a hunger strike. I cut short my hunger fast when Cardinal Sin, who was concerned for my health, requested that I do so.

I also filed an electoral protest with the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. While the case was ongoing, I ran and won as senator in 1998. The Supreme Court dismissed my protest, on the technical ground that my victory as senator was tantamount to abandoning the protest.

Ramos won with the lowest plurality in Philippine presidential election history with just 23.58% of the vote of my 19.72%.

To allow Ramos to go unpunished for his crimes is tantamount to reinforcing the culture of impunity in this country. Never again should we allow a presidential candidate from ever stealing the election from the real winner voted by the Filipino people.#

Miriam wants to hear from you

5 Sep

The Philippines has nominated Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago as judge of International Criminal Court. If she wins the elections this December, she will serve for nine years at The Hague, Netherlands.

Columnist Jojo Robles in Manila Standard Today last 30 August 2011 said Miriam should stay in the Senate. He explained:

“If Santiago gets elected to the International Criminal Court it would be a great honor for Filipinos. On the other hand, if Santiago goes, she will leave behind an immense void in the Senate that none of the current legislators will be able to fill.

It’s not just that Santiago has a brilliant mind and a quick, if often acerbic, wit. The feisty Ilonga senator also has more than her fair share of common sense—a trait that is so uncommon in her chamber these days.”

Should Miriam stay as senator until her term ends in 2016? Or should Miriam resign and serve as ICC judge at The Hague, thus bringing honor to the country?

Miriam wants to know your opinion. There’s a simple survey form in the right sidebar where you can vote whether Miriam should remain in the Senate or represent the country in the ICC.

MIRIAM SEEKS OMBUDSMAN PRIORITY FOR CONGRESS PROBES

1 Sep

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said that she will file a bill directing the Ombudsman to waive or at least to give priority to preliminary investigations of criminal cases recommended for filing by the Senate or the House of Representatives.

Santiago said that last year, she already filed a resolution “expressing the sense of the Senate that the Ombudsman should strictly comply with the periods provided under the Rules of Court in the investigation of cases referred to it by Congress.”

Santiago’s resolution is apparently pending in the Senate justice committee.

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